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Laura Spencer-Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough

Laura Spencer-Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough

Frances Laura Spencer-Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough (née Charteris; 10 August 1915 – 19 February 1990), was a British noblewoman and socialite. She was variously Viscountess Long, Countess of Dudley and became Duchess of Marlborough upon her fourth marriage, to John Spencer-Churchill, 10th Duke of Marlborough. She was the sister of novelist Hugo Charteris and Ann Charteris (who married Ian Fleming), as well as the granddaughter of Hugo Charteris, 11th Earl of Wemyss. Her third husband, Michael Temple Canfield, was the former husband of Lee Radziwill, sister of First Lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis. During World War II, she served as an auxiliary nurse.

Early life

Frances Laura Charteris was born on 10 August 1915 at London, England, to Captain the Hon. Guy Lawrence Charteris (second son of the 11th Earl of Wemyss and Mary Constance Wyndham) and Frances Lucy Tennant, daughter of a Scottish chemical merchant. Laura, as she was called, had 3 siblings, Ann, Mary Rose and Hugo. Their mother died of cancer in 1925 and the remainder of their childhood was spent shuffling between homes in London and family in Scotland, where their grandparents, the Earl and Countess of Wemyss, lived. During World War II, she served as an auxiliary nurse for the Royal Navy.


On 14 November 1933, at St Margaret's Church, Westminster, London, England, she married Walter Francis David Long, 2nd Viscount Long. He was the son of Brigadier-General Walter Long and Sibell Vanden-Bempde-Johnstone. During her marriage, she was the Viscountess Long. Laura's only child, was the product of this union: The couple divorced in 1942.

  • Antoinette Sara Frances Sibell Long (b. 1934), who married the Hon. Sir Charles Morrison, second son of John Morrison, 1st Baron Margadale, in 1954.

Laura then married William Humble Eric Ward, 3rd Earl of Dudley, son of William Humble Ward, 2nd Earl of Dudley and Rachel Gurney, on 23 February 1943. She was known as the Countess of Dudley until she and Ward divorced in 1954. Dudley married thirdly to Grace Maria (née Kolin) Radziwill (1923–2016), daughter of Dr. Michael Kolin and Anna Tironi of Dubrovnik, Yugoslavia. Grace was the former wife of Prince Stanislaus Radziwill (The Prince's third wife, Lee Radziwiłł, was formerly married to Michael Temple Canfield, Laura's third husband).

On 13 June 1960, Laura married Michael Temple Canfield, rumoured to have been the son of Prince George, Duke of Kent and American socialite Alice Gwynne Preston. Canfield was adopted as an infant by Cass Canfield, head of Harper & Row Publishing house with his wife Katharine Emmet. Michael Canfield was the previous husband of Princess Lee Radziwill, the younger sister of former First Lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis and sister-in-law of President John F. Kennedy.

Her fourth and final husband was John Albert William Spencer-Churchill, 10th Duke of Marlborough, whom she married six weeks before his death in 1972. From the time of this marriage, she became known as the Duchess of Marlborough.

Laura died on 19 February 1990 at age 74 at Portman Towers, Marylebone, London, England.


In 1980, she published her autobiography, Laughter from a Cloud. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1980 (ISBN 978-0-297-77739-7)


  • 1915 — 1933: Miss Frances Laura Charteris
  • 1933 — 1942: The Right Honourable The Viscountess Long
  • 1942 — 1943: Frances, Viscountess Long
  • 1943 — 1954: The Right Honourable The Countess of Dudley
  • 1954 — 1960: Frances, Countess of Dudley
  • 1960 — 1971: Mrs Michael Temple Canfield
  • 1972 — 1972: Her Grace The Duchess of Marlborough
  • 1972 — 1977: Her Grace Laura Spencer-Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough
  • 1977 — 1990: Her Grace The Dowager Duchess of Marlborough


Text submitted to CC-BY-SA license. Source: Laura Spencer-Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough by Wikipedia (Historical)